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Various images then and now of Batteries Godfrey, Boutelle, and Marcus Miller

Nov 1, 2016

Then + Now: Batteries Godfrey, Boutelle, and Marcus Miller

Learn about three historic gun batteries you can view while walking on the California Coastal Trail.


Nowhere is our military past more tangible than along the Presidio’s rugged western bluffs where powerful concrete gun batteries once defended the Army post from potential attackers. After World War II, new technologies made these once mighty outposts monuments to the past.

Today, three of these structures – Battery Godfrey and Battery Boutelle and Battery Marcus Miller – an be visited via the California Coastal Trail. They’re located on the coastal bluffs adjacent to the Golden Gate toll plaza and can be reached via Lincoln Boulevard to Merchant Road. Parking is available along Merchant Road in the gravel parking area. Note: The interior magazines are closed to the public.

Battery Godfrey

Canon on Battery Godfrey in 1910 and view now

Battery Godfrey, 1910, and now.

Battery Godfrey was named for Captain George J. Godfrey of the 22nd Infantry, who was killed in action in Cavite, Island of Luzon, Philippine Islands, in 1899. Completed in 1895, this battery was active from 1895 to 1943. It housed three 12-inch guns and the first 12-inch artillery platform in the country. Battery Godfrey was built to match or outshoot the guns of contemporary battleships at ranges of up to ten miles and could fire one 1,070-pound shell per minute. In 1943, the War Department ordered the salvaging of this battery, along with 12 others considered obsolete. In this image from 1910 from Defender of the Gate, Erwin N. Thompson writes, “Gun 1, Battery Godfrey, ready to fire. The soldier at right is working on the plotting board. The soldier at left is on the phone to fire control stations, plotting room, or battery commander.”

Photo Credit: Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, Fort Point Administration

Battery Boutelle

View of Battery Boutelle then and now

Battery Boutelle, 1910, and now.

Battery Boutelle, built in 1900, was named for Lieutenant Henry M. Boutelle, who was killed in action near Aliago, Philippine Islands in 1899. Its three five-inch rapid fire guns, mounted on balanced pillar mounts, were designed to defend against mine sweepers and torpedo boats. They had a firing range of seven miles and could be fired at a rate of up to thirty rounds per minute.

Photo Credit: Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives

Battery Marcus Miller

Soldiers posing with canon then on left. Exterior and interior views of Battery Marcus Miller now on the right.

Battery Marcus Miller, 1900 and now.

The first battery in the Harbor Defense of San Francisco, Battery Marcus Miller was built in 1897. Designed to protect the San Francisco Bay from seaward attack, it was armed with a “disappearing gun” and three 10-inch mounted guns with a range of seven miles. It was named in 1898 to honor Brigadier General Marcus Miller of the U.S. Artillery, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Civil War, the Modoc War, and the Nez Perce War, who served as the commanding officer of the Presidio of San Francisco in 1898. In 1900, the gun crew in the image above was enlisted to protect the bay. The guns were removed in 1920.

Photo Credit: Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives

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